Beliefnet

Today, thanks to the miracles of science, we live in an age when anyone in the world can instantly get the wrong answer to any question. And often it's free! In that spirit, here are important updates from research mysteries at the cutting edge of science:

HOW LOUD WAS THE BIG BANG? So incredibly, astonishingly loud that you could have heard it even if you had been listening to the Backstreet Boys at the time.

DO BLACK HOLES COME IN OTHER COLORS? Scientists were amazed when the Hubble Space Telescope recently produced evidence of the previously unknown Plaid Hole. Another stunning discovery was the J. Crew Hole, an interstellar object that swallows up all colors with normal names. The only electromagnetism that can escape from the J. Crew Hole is light with wavelengths of Dusky Teal, Warm Sticky Butterscotch, or Mayan Multicultural Mocha.

WHO LOST THE MISSING MASS? According to astronomers, up to 90% of the matter that ought to exist in the universe appears to be missing. This is the kind of mismanagement that makes Amtrak look good. One theory is that the missing mass was shipped to the wrong address. Another theory holds that the missing mass isn't missing at all, it's just being hoarded by speculators. But just think of it, most of the universe has been misplaced! When those responsible are found, heads should roll.

WHAT WOULD HAPPEN IF THE MILKY WAY COLLIDED WITH A GALAXY MADE OF ANTI-MATTER? Approximately what will happen during the Bush-Gore presidential debates.

IS IT TRUE THAT EVERY PERSON HAS A DOUBLE IN A PARALLEL UNIVERSE? Yes, and that person is getting all your interesting mail and has inherited the vast sum of money a distant relative intended to leave to you.

IF SPACESHIP "A" WAS MOVING AT 99% OF THE SPEED OF LIGHT AND PASSED SPACESHIP "B" AT A RIGHT ANGLE, WHILE AN ASTRONAUT ABOARD SPACESHIP "A" WAS LOOKING INTO A MIRROR POINTED BACKWARD, WHAT TIME WOULD IT APPEAR TO BE ON THE WRISTWATCH OF THE ASTRONAUT IN SPACESHIP "B?" I have absolutely no idea.

How hot is the sun? So hot that a teaspoon of solar material would melttheentire polar ice cap, or the hearts of any two NRA officials.

WHAT CAN'T SCIENCE EXPLAIN? Despite years of budget increases, scientists still cannot unravel many basic phenomena of physics. Consider these unknowns:

  • How the telephone answering machine makes it possible for you to incur a long-distance calling charge without actually speaking to anyone!
  • Where the socks that disappear in your clothes dryer go. (Some cosmologists believe that quasars are powered by lost socks, but the research is preliminary.)
  • Why a football, when fumbled in an NFL game, will always bounce toward the player with the highest salary.
  • Why quantum mechanics enables one single, invisible particle to have effects in many different places simultaneously, and yet everywhere you go, people act like you're not there.
  • IS IT POSSIBLE FOR TIME TO MOVE BACKWARD? The physicist Stephen Hawking actually once proposed that someday the universe will contract and time will move backward, with everyone re-living their lives in reverse. Many unusual effects would be observed. Long-married people would find their spouses' comments fascinating, while people on first dates would be uninterested in sex. When Michael Jackson did the moonwalk, he would go forward.When time flows backward, here is what will happen when you use BeliefNet.com. First you will log off the internet, feeling vaguely jaded. Next you will lower a full cup of coffee from your lips, watching as it begins to steam. Then you will walk over to your desk and turn on your computer. At this point you will find yourself eagerly looking forward to checking the latest postings on BeliefNet, because all your thoughts along the lines of "who writes this stuff, anyway?" will exist in your future, not your past.

    HOW WILL THE UNIVERSE END? Not with a "Big Crunch" but a "Big Ponzi," when it is revealed that all matter, which seems once to have originated from nothing, actually is an elaborate pyramid scheme based on direct-mail marketing in an alternate dimension.

    HOW CAN WE BE SO SURE OF THE UNCERTAINTY PRINCIPLE? Much of quantum physics is premised on Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle, which holds that it is impossible to be sure of basic information about reality. But what if the Uncertainty Principle is itself affected by uncertainty, meaning we'll never really know if it's true?For example, historians believe that the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle was devised by a man named Werner Heisenberg. But no one was ever able to obtain a photography of exactly what Heisenberg looked like--in snapshots, he appears as a sort of blur--and the famous researcher was impossible to contact because he would list his address only as "somewhere in Europe." Given this, we cannot rule out that uncertainty itself invalidates the Uncertainty Principle, leaving all modern physics in a state of unresolved crisis--which would be ideal from the standpoint of next year's budget requests.

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